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Latest Piorun MANPADS brings new seeker, computing systems

Piorun MANPADS – the Next Generation system is intended to be more effective against modern countermeasures. (Jakub Link-Lenczowski)

Polish missile and ammunition specialist Mesko is developing a new version of its Piorun manportable air-defence system (MANPADS).

Przemysław Kowalczuk, a member of Mesko's board, told Janes that the Piorun Next Generation (NG) is intended to improve the system's effectiveness against modern countermeasures, including jamming, decoys, and laser-based countermeasures. “The biggest improvement is the development of the new multispectral seeker, onboard computer, and missile steering block”, Kowalczuk said.

The new computer has an updated target library and new algorithms that enable real-time, in-depth target analysis, according to the company, and which it says should improve effector performance against fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Mesko is undertaking the first trials of the new components, Kowalczuk said, adding, “The first test launches should take place in six to nine months on one of the Polish military training grounds… the current configuration of the Piorun NG enables testing [to take place, but] it is not final yet”, he added.

So far, the Piorun NG programme has been led and self-funded by Mesko and Telesystem-Mesko. According to Kowalczuk, current project costs are estimated as “several hundred million Polish złoty”.

The Piorun MANPADS has been operational with the Ukrainian military in its conflict with Russia, reportedly successfully used against fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The system, developed from the older Grom MANPADS, can be employed as a shoulder-launched system or mounted on vehicles. The missiles can perform NATO-certified identification friend-or-foe (IFF) inquiries to avoid ‘friendly fire'.

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